Louis Ex-Cop Acquitted on Murder Charges After Killing Black Man

Posted September 16, 2017

Posted: Sep. 15, 2017 7:00 am Updated: Sep.

St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was let off the hook in the 2011 shooting death of a motorist.

Hundreds of protesters poured into St. Louis' streets and some scuffles broke out as they voiced their anger after a Missouri judge on Friday ruled a white former St. Louis police officer was not guilty of murder in the 2011 shooting of a black man. Stockley says he saw Smith holding a gun before the chase began, and that he felt he was in imminent danger when he opened fire. "What prosecutors worked to do was present evidence in court that they believe proved Stockley violated Missouri law when he shot Smith and then planted a gun in Smith's vehicle to justify the killing".

The judge who decided the matter declared that he would not be swayed by "partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism".

Less than a minute later, the officer shot Smith five times. New evidence reopened the case in May 2016 despite a $900,000 settlement the police department paid the Smith family in 2013, one of the largest police department settlements in city history.

Stockley, 36, could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole. The officer wasn't charged but later resigned. But the department and all involved officers admitted no wrongdoing, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Dashcam video and cell phone footage of the chase was used as evidence during the trial, as well as DNA evidence from a gun found in Smith's auto.

But the prosecution described a very different scene, with Assistant Circuit Attorney Aaron Levinson saying Stockley shot Smith five times, including once while standing 6 inches from him, which Levinson called the "kill shot".

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During the trial, Stockley testified that he heard his partner yell "gun" as the suspect's vehicle went past - and that he himself saw a weapon in the auto.

The former police officer chose a bench trial rather than a jury.

Wilson said it wouldn't be unusual for Smith to have a gun, writing, "Finally, the Court observes, based on its almost thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly". A case in OH twice ended with hung juries, and prosecutors have decided not to seek a third trial.

Authorities had set up barricades around the courthouse and intensified security in preparation for protests, according to CNN affiliate KMOV in St. Louis.

Stockley's attorney, Neil Bruntrager, argued that Smith, a 24-year-old parole violator with previous convictions for gun and drug crimes, tried to run over the two officers.

Krewson says in a statement early Friday that she's praying for the loved ones of Smith, who was shot to death in 2011.

Mr Stockley said he was retrieving some equipment to administer first aid.

The acquittal "does not change the facts: Anthony Lamar Smith died unnecessarily, another casualty of excessive and deadly force by police against people of color", the ACLU of Missouri said in a statement.